How Do I Find a Geriatrician Near Me?

In this article...
  • "Should I see a geriatrician near me?" is a common question among older adults. Find out when you need a geriatrician, what they do and how to find one.

Geriatricians are physicians with advanced training in health care for older adults. With more than 52 million people in the United States over the age of 65, the demand for medical specialists to care for this age group is rapidly increasing. However, not all older adults need a geriatrician. Here's a closer look at what these specialists do and how to find a geriatrician near you.

What Does a Geriatrician Do?

While many primary physicians can care for older adults, geriatricians manage the health of those with complex problems, such as multiple chronic conditions. This medical specialty focuses on:

  • Diagnosing and treating illnesses in older adults, keeping in mind the effects of aging on organs and systems
  • Identifying whether symptoms are caused by aging or underlying illness

  • Understanding how multiple chronic conditions interact in a person
  • Determining how multiple medications react and metabolize in older adults

  • Helping older adults with impairment and disabilities to maintain independence for as long as possible
  • Improving all aspects of a person's well-being instead of treating conditions in isolation

Your initial consultation with a geriatrician usually involves establishing a plan for care and recommending other health care providers that you may need to see. Usually you continue to see your primary doctor for routine issues, but in some cases, your geriatrician may become your primary physician.

Qualifications of a Geriatrician

Geriatricians have advanced training. After completing an undergraduate education and medical school, candidates continue on with residency training in family practice or internal medicine to gain expertise in primary care. This is usually followed by a geriatrics fellowship. Specialists such as geriatricians must keep their knowledge up to date to maintain their credentials.

Should I See a Geriatrician Near Me?

Geriatricians usually care for people over the age of 55, but there's no specific age that you should see one. Many older adults don't need a specialist until they're over the age of 70 or 80. The decision to see a geriatrician largely depends on your individual health needs.

While your primary care physician can recommend whether you need a geriatrician, here are some situations when it might be helpful. 

1. You Have Multiple Medical Conditions

About 60% of older adults have at least two chronic health conditions. It can be challenging and even overwhelming to cope with more than one illness and can result in more vulnerabilities or increased chance of harm. A geriatrician can help manage the complexities arising from having more than one condition.

Common conditions for older adults include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Incontinence
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Memory loss or dementia
  • Injury or frailty from falls

2. You Take Multiple Prescription Drugs

According to one survey, almost 84% of Americans aged 60 to 79 take more than one prescription drug, and one-third take five or more prescription drugs.

Managing multiple medications is challenging. Prescription drugs, supplements and over-the-counter medications can all interact and cause side effects. Aging also affects how medication is metabolized in older adults.

A geriatrician may suggest streamlining and prioritizing your medications or eliminating certain ones, especially if treating one condition impacts another.

3. Your Conditions Are Causing Impairments

If your conditions are causing significant impairment in physical or cognitive function and affecting your day-to-day activities, a geriatrician may be able to provide a continuum of care. This is a long-term comprehensive care plan that can help you maintain independence as long as possible.

4. Your Caregivers Feel Overwhelmed

Many older adults rely on family and friends for support when they're unable to do things for themselves. If your caregivers are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, a geriatrician can recommend community and home care services to help ease the burden.

How Do I Find a Geriatrician Near Me?

Once you've decided a specialist can be of help, there are a few ways to find a geriatrician near you. 

  • Ask your primary care physician for a referral
  • Ask your health insurance carrier for a list of geriatricians in your service area
  • Use Medicare's online tool to find a health care provider
  • Use The American Geriatrics Society database — you can also email info@healthinaging.org or call (212) 308-1414 if you're unable to search online

Questions to Ask When You Meet With a Geriatrician

It's a good idea to begin preparing for your consultation once you have an appointment with a geriatrician near you. Make a list of your:

  • Health conditions and concerns
  • Medications
  • Questions

Your questions should include:

  • Should I keep my primary care doctor or can you take care of all my health concerns?
  • Which health condition is most problematic or should take priority?

Are there any changes I should make to my medications?